Making A House A Home For Art


May 05, 1991|By Elizabeth Large

Sun art critic John Dorsey says he always thought of the Walters Art Gallery's collection of Asian art as "one of the great unknown collections" because only a few pieces could ever be shown; most of it has been hidden away for nearly a century. Of the 3,000 porcelains in the collection, for instance, only 45 could be on display at any one time.

All that changes today with the opening of Hackerman House, the Walters' Museum of Asian Art. Like the collection, the house itself has been a hidden treasure. It's one of Baltimore's great 19th century town houses, and was in the hands of three private residents but now will finally be open to the public.

Hackerman House is the reversal of the usual house museum, where appropriate objects decorate period rooms. Here the rooms "decorate" the collection, with the setting used, as John ,, says, "as a semidomestic background for the art."

As an example, he points out that one of the things he likes about the house setting is that the places to sit are period furniture: an empire sofa, a settee, various chairs that go with the rooms but are meant for people to use.

For more on this superb collection and its historic setting, please turn to our cover story on Page 8.

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